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  • Print publication year: 1996
  • Online publication date: July 2011

5 - Nicaragua: From low-intensity warfare to low-intensity democracy


Preventive diplomacy and preemptive reform can reduce the risks of extremist political infection and radical contamination. When confronted with such situations, the United States must define its interests early on and then develop strategies in cooperation with regional friends that will promote the likelihood of peaceful change and successor governments compatible with our own.

Henry Kissinger and Cyrus Vance

Washington believes that Nicaragua must serve as a warning to the rest of Central America to never again challenge US hegemony, because of the enormous economic and political costs. It's too bad that the [Nicaraguan] poor must suffer, but historically the poor have always suffered. Nicaragua must be a lesson to others.

Richard John Neuhaus

Preventative diplomacy and preemptive reform

In May 1989, on the eve of the opening of the Nicaraguan electoral process, one of President Bush's national security advisors observed: “Since Manila, the United States has gotten into this; we have been brandishing this new tool of giving support to electoral processes. The Plebiscite in Chile was analogous, where we saw we could shake an entrenched regime by [getting involved in] elections… We are learning these techniques, and they should be applied to Nicaragua.”

In the Philippines and Chile, the United States applied “preventive diplomacy and preemptive reform” as part of shifts in policy to “democracy promotion.” The shift and the concomitant introduction of new forms of political intervention came precisely when society-wide anti-dictatorial movements were reaching a critical mass under the leadership of popular forces.

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Promoting Polyarchy
  • Online ISBN: 9780511559129
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